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Background

Cross Compliance aims at ensuring the safe production of food, the welfare of animals, the sustainable use of land, the maintenance of natural resources and limiting climate change.

Cross Compliance requirements were first introduced in 2000 in a limited format and developed further under the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform. Cross compliance is the linkage of direct financial support to the observance of environmental and other law. Cross Compliance introduced measures which are important for society in general, such as nitrate limits in fertilisation practices, protecting NATURA 2000 areas, food safety, animal welfare and the traceability of food from animals, biodiversity and climate change.

Cross Compliance is implemented under two main areas; Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) standards. There are thirteen SMRs which refer to 13 legislative requirements in environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. GAEC requires land to be kept in good agricultural and environmental condition and consists of seven standards related to soil, protection and maintenance of soil organic matter, protection of habitats and protection of water sources.

Cross Compliance Requirements:

Beneficiaries must adhere to the Cross Compliance requirements for the entire calendar year. The beneficiary is the person responsible for ensuring the Cross Compliance rules are met and must make sure that the following people also meet the rules:

  • Persons acting for them (or under their control) on their holding e.g. contractor/farm employee
  • Persons with access to the holding under the terms of an agreement e.g. short-term rental agreement

The Cross Compliance requirements apply to all the lands farmed (owned and rented) by the beneficiary (including commonage). For those requirement regarding the identification, registration and welfare of animals, it is the herd keeper/herd owner who is responsible for compliance.

Cross Compliance Inspections:

Cross Compliance inspections involve two key elements:

  • Verification that farmers comply with the 13 SMRs set down in EU legislation on the public health, animal and plant health, animal welfare, and the environment.
  • Verification that farmers comply with the 7 standards pertaining to GAEC of land.

DAFM as the paying agency undertakes this function, in association with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht who have primary responsibility for certain environmental requirements.  In addition DAFM carries out nitrates inspections on behalf of the Local Authorities.

Selection of Inspection Cases:

Cases selected for inspection are chosen by risk analysis.  Approximately 20-25% of cases are selected randomly with the remainder selected using risk criteria appropriate to that SMR/GAEC. Examples of risk criteria include previous penalty cases or people with a track record of notifying the AIMS Database late. Risk Analysis results are reviewed on an annual basis and risk categories are modified as appropriate e.g. risk categories that perform are kept but underperforming ones are either dropped or amended and new ones may also be added.

EU Regulations stipulate that at least the following level of inspections must be carried out:

  • 1% of all beneficiaries are selected for full Cross Compliance inspections.
  • 3% of bovine herds are inspected for Bovine Identification and Registration (IDR) requirements.
  • 3% of ovine/caprine flocks/herds are inspected for Ovine/Caprine Identification and Registration (IDR) requirements which must include 5% of the national flock/herd.

A full Cross Compliance inspection include all 13 SMRs and 7 GAEC standards. Inspections may include a number of SMRs and GAEC indifferent combinations depending on farm circumstances.

Notification of Inspection:

Notice of inspection differs depending on the type of inspection being performed. Full Cross Compliance inspections are unannounced. Some elements of the full Cross Compliance inspection may be deferred to within 48 hours. However, the Animal Welfare SMRs and the Food & Feed Hygiene SMRs cannot be deferred. Bovine and ovine/caprine Identification and Registration inspections are generally notified with up to 48 hours advance notice given.

Cross Compliance Sanctions:

If an applicant is found to be in breach of Cross Compliance through negligence, a sanction of 3% of the support payment will generally apply but this can be increased to 5% or decreased to 1% depending on the extent, severity and permanence of the infringement. However, not every breach of the requirements or standards results in an automatic financial sanction. Where the breach is considered to be minor and remedial action is taken within the stipulated period, no sanction will apply.

Where the non-compliance is deemed intentional, a reduction of 20% shall generally be applied. The sanction can be increased up to 100%, or reduced to 15%, depending on the seriousness of the non-compliance. In extreme cases, the sanction can extend beyond the year of the finding. In the case of an infringement of the same requirement, or standard occurring more than once, within a consecutive period of 3 calendar years, the sanction will be trebled and this is called Reoccurrence.

Local Authorities and other competent control authorities are required under EU/National law to report breaches of these requirements to the Basic Payment Scheme Unit. The Basic Payment Scheme Unit will then determine if a sanction under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes is appropriate.

Reviews and Appeals of Inspection Findings:

Farmers, who are dissatisfied with the outcome of Cross Compliance inspections, following the receipt of the interim notification (Notice Form), may firstly submit any additional information in writing to the local District Superintendent. On receipt of the Formal Notice which outlines findings at inspection, the farmer can then seek a review in writing from the District Inspector. She/he may further appeal their case to the Agriculture Appeals Office, should they still be dissatisfied with the findings.

For further information on the Cross Compliance requirements please read the Explanatory Handbook for Cross Compliance Requirements.